Inquiry design meeting #13: February 7-8, 2016, Winnipeg, Manitoba

The thirteenth meeting to inform the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was held in Winnipeg, Manitoba on February 7-8, 2016. The pre-inquiry meeting included families and loved ones of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, survivors, and representatives who have been involved in supporting family members. Their experiences, views and contributions will be used to help design the inquiry.

A summary of the meeting is provided below. This summary is not a complete account of the discussions; it highlights the key themes that emerged from this engagement meeting. Read a copy of the discussion guide used at this meeting.

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Overview

The engagement meeting was held over two days, with the first day being a preparation day. Elders arrived and prepared the space on February 7, which included a registration and orientation session where families, loved ones and survivors shared the stories of their families and/or their personal stories of experiencing violence. The far-ranging impacts of violence and abuse were discussed, as well as what families and survivors need to support their long-term healing journey.

The second day was dedicated to inviting participants to share how they think the inquiry should be designed, with participants sharing their insights in a circle for the first part of the day and breaking into small groups for the second part of the day. The day opened and closed with traditional ceremonies, including drumming, prayers and singing. Those in attendance acknowledged and honoured the women and girls who were murdered and who are still missing.

The Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs heard about the needs and experiences of families and loved ones of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, survivors, and others. Participants focused on sharing their perspectives on how best to design the inquiry so that it responds to their needs and experiences.

Participants in the Winnipeg session stressed the importance of making sure that a families and survivors first approach informs the inquiry, which includes considering the safety and healing needs of families and survivors before, during and after the inquiry takes place. The discussion focused on participants' experiences with various institutions and how they would like to see the inquiry lead to improvements in these areas.

Who attended

Over 180 family members and loved ones of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, survivors of violence, and representatives who support families in Manitoba attended the meeting. Participants came from several Indigenous communities, mostly from the province of Manitoba but also from Ontario, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

Also in attendance was:

Officials from Indigenous and Northern Affairs and Status of Women were also present throughout the day. To ensure the well-being of participants, health support workers (including Indigenous elders) from Health Canada were available at the meetings and over-night to provide additional cultural and emotional support.

Leadership and participation

Participants were asked to consider who should lead and who should take part in the inquiry. Views on leadership included the need to have:

Some participants also suggested that an advisory council of family members, representing each province and territory, be put in place to inform the inquiry and support it to focus on family needs throughout the process.
Others suggested it will be important to ensure the Commissioner(s) have access to support, given the difficult nature of the work they will be doing.
Participants also identified which groups should be invited to take part in the inquiry. They recommended that it include:

Priorities and key issues

Participants identified a broad range of issues the inquiry could address. These issues include:

Participants suggested that change is needed in multiple areas and that the inquiry should lead to recommendations to inform:

Participants emphasized the importance of taking action to address the issue and for the inquiry leading to specific recommendations for actions and improvements. They suggested the recommendations should:

Support and cultural practices

Participants noted that it will be important to honour and respect local traditional practices, protocols and ceremonies in the inquiry process.
They explained that families need support throughout the process and that it will be important to include:

Participants stressed that a families first model will be important in the inquiry. They indicated that to support families the inquiry should:

Additional comments

Participants also discussed a range of other issues that could inform the inquiry or actions taken while the inquiry is taking place to address and prevent violence against Indigenous women and girls.
These include the need to:

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